Build a Better World In Your Backyard by Paul Wheaton

The Big Idea: Small scale permaculture is the solution to most environmental problems.

Ch 1: A Different Approach to Solving World Problems

  • Nearly all environmental problems are mostly solved with a combination of homesteading and permaculture.

Ch 2: Environmentalist vs “Environmentalist”

  • Most people who call themselves “environmentalist” are probably very wasteful of natural resources.
  • Energy use is the best metric for defining an environmentalist.
  • The average American adult spends $83 a month on heat and electricity.

Ch 3: The Wicked Lies About Light Bulbs

  • The LED light bulb is a good metaphor for environmental thinking.
  • It sounds environmentally friendly, but mathematically, the incandescent bulb is better (lower toxicity, more efficient for those in cold climates, better light quality.)

Ch 4: Carbon Footprint

  • The average American adult generates 30 tons of annual carbon emissions.
  • Focusing on 80/20, the big winners are to reduce your heat usage in cold climates and to grow your own food.

Ch 5: Petroleum Footprint

  • The unsubsidized price for a gallon of gasoline is actually three times higher.
  • Lots of ways to reduce fuel consumption.
  • 80/20 says to telecommute and to grow your own food.

Ch 6: Toxic Footprint

  • Sources of toxins that probably cause cancer and other diseases: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, plastic with BPA, aspartame, sucralose, saccharine
  • What to do: stop using toxic soaps and shampoos, stop using toxic household cleaners, don’t drink chlorinated water, stop using teflon, stop using plastic containers, live in a home built with toxin-free materials, avoid city pollution

Ch 7: The Wheaton Eco Scale

Ch 8: Moving Way Beyond Recycling

  • There is no such thing as waste in nature. Everything is recycled.
  • Even better than recycling is not using packaging in the first place. Grow as much of your own food as possible.

Ch 9: Vote with Your Wallet

  • Stop buying traditional, industrial-grown food.
  • “If you think organic food is expensive, have you priced cancer recently?”

Ch 10: Radically Deviant Financial Strategies

  • If your life doesn’t change if you had a million dollar, then is it fair to say you’re living the life of a millionaire.
  • Want to learn how to live without a mortgage? Read Rob Roy’s book Mortgage Free.
  • Jacob Lund Fisker has a blog “Early Retirement Extreme” which says basically live frugally and save 75% of your income.
  • An alternative is to build one or multiple side businesses.
  • Another alternative is to try community living and pool your resources.

Ch 11: Organic vs Local

  • Permaculture >> organic >> local

Ch 12: Vegan vs Omnivore vs Junk Food

  • Veganism is a noble path.
  • In terms of impact, polyculture/permaculture >> vegan >> junk food.
  • Cowspiracy stats are a load of manure.
  • The lowest-impact and most healthy source of food is your own backyard.

Ch 13: Really Reducing Home Energy Usage

  • Nearly all war and pollution is related to energy usage.
  • Most energy usage is related to heating and cooling, including heating water.
  • Use more blankets, insulate your home better, take shorter showers, use a toaster oven, get a smaller house.

Ch 14: More People Living Under One Roof Without Stabbing Each Other

  • Keep the common areas clean by charging more rent and hiring a cleaning service.

Ch 15: Toxic Gick vs 20 Years of Your Life

  • As a cleaner, water alone is enough 90% of the time.
  • Vinegar and baking soda can clean most surfaces fine.
  • Cast iron >> teflon.
  • Use diatomaceous earth for insect control.

Ch 16: The Huge Link Between Food and Global Footprint

  • Learn permaculture concepts to grow your own food with minimal effort.

Ch 17: Double the Food with One Tenth of the Effort

  • Direct seeding >> transplanting.
  • No-till >> tilling.
  • Hugelkultur raised beds.
  • Perennials >> annuals.
  • Chop-and-drop is an ideal approach to mulching.
  • Incorporate deciduous trees in your permaculture design.
  • Polyculture is required.
  • Include mushrooms for diversity and resiliency.

Ch 18: The Dark Side of Native Plant Enthusiasm

  • Better understanding of horticulture >> blind advocacy for native plants.

Ch 19: 20 Things to Do with the Twigs That Fall n Your Backyard

  • Mulch, hugelkultur, brush piles.

Ch 20: Not Composting

  • Instead of composting, feed kitchen scraps to your chickens.

Ch 21: Better Than a Solar Panel – A Solar Food Dehydrator

  • Properly dehydrated food can last for years.

Ch 22: Breaking the Toxic Water Cycle with Greywater Recycling

  • Read Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig.
  • Build a laundry-to-landscape system, and use environmentally friendly laundry detergent.

Ch 23: Harvesting Electricity in Your Backyard

  • Going off-grid forces to you question your energy usage.
  • The best off-grid power source is micro hydro.

Ch 24: The Conventional Lawn vs a Mowable Meadow

  • Mow higher and always leave the clippings.
  • Water deep and less often.
  • Build earthworm towns once and pile on organic matter regularly for them to eat.

Ch 25: How Vegans Benefit from Caring for Farm Animals

  • If you’re a vegan, either your farm animals do the work, or you do the work.
  • Pamper your animals with a movable paddock shift system.
  • Get a livestock guardian dog.

Ch 26: Replacing Petroleum with People

  • Try to incorporate people and hand tools when possible.

Ch 27: Wrestling with Poop Beasts and Peeing in the Garden

  • Build a dry outhouse on an elevated mound.
  • Urinate near plants or use a urine diverter and use diluted urine to fertilize plants.

Ch 28: The Solutions to Colony Collapse Disorder are Embarrassingly Simple

  • Organic beekeeping >> conventional beekeeping.

Ch 29: Destroy Your Orchard to Make a Food Forest

  • A monocrop orchard is not permaculture.
  • Trees from seeds >> trees grown from starters.
  • The bottom third of a fruit tree is for critters, the middle third is for humans, the top third is for birds.

Ch 30: A Building Design that Solves Almost Everything

  • A straw bale house has walls made from natural materials, but is otherwise the same as a conventional house, only with thicker walls and more expensive.
  • A cob house is similar to a straw bale house, but more labor intensive, and, maybe more fun and beautiful.
  • The ideal permaculture home is an underground home, in the style of Mike Oehler – a wofati.

Comments are closed.